ANTIHERO: Hi Mike, how are you doing?
Mike IX Williams: Great, fantastic, glad to be back on tour – but we’re always on tour, this year.
ANTIHERO: Let’s start talking about you and your health: you underwent a liver transplant in December 2016, how long after that did you get back to the stage?
Mike IX Williams: About four months, I had the transplant in December and we got back to the stage in April. It was around the middle of December, so it was about four and a half.
ANTIHERO: Was it safe to go back so soon?
Mike IX Williams: I’m sure it wasn’t [laughs]. I mean, my doctor probably didn’t want me to do that, but we wanted to…one thing that kept me going while I was in the hospital was knowing that we’d get to play again and hoping for that. So, I was excited to get back out as soon as possible, and we had the chance to play on my birthday, it was like the first show back on my birthday, so it was perfect, you know.
ANTIHERO: There has been a great outpouring of love, with a lot of fans donating to the crowdfunding to help you pay your medical bills; where you expecting something like that to happen?
Mike IX Williams: Not at all! You never know what’s going to happen in that situation, but it was overwhelming. That’s another thing that kept me thinking positively and hoping for the future, it was that, that every day there’d be tons of best wishes for me and “get well” notes and messages on Facebook, everywhere! It was pretty overwhelming, it was great, I thank those people so much.
ANTIHERO: You played almost every day since the end of December, you just had a small break recently and now you’re back on the road; how did that go for you personally? Is it the same as before the transplant or some things changed?
Mike IX Williams: No, well, I don’t drink vodka…not all the time [laughs]. I’m trying not to drink vodka, let’s put it that way. No, I mean, everything is the same as it’s always been; when you have a brush with death like that – you’re going to die if you don’t get medical help – you tend to have these thoughts in your mind that you want to do a lot more and get a lot done, because you never know when you’re going to die, you could get sick tomorrow, so many bad things can happen in this life. After I got well I just wanted to tour and tour because that’s what we like to do, that’s what I like to do, play music as much as possible.
ANTIHERO: Your self-titled album came out in 2014, 14 years after “Confederacy of Ruined Lives”, and after such a long break between the two I guess many fans don’t know when to expect a follow-up. Are you working on new music?
Mike IX Williams: Yes, yes. They’ve got songs written, they’ve actually recorded a demo, I guess we could call it now, that was going to be the new album, they recorded a bunch of songs, some of it was written in the studio but I guess we’re not 100% happy with it and we want to…now Brian is not in the band, our other guitar player, he’s left to take care of his family, he’s got a new child and also his wife’s parents are sick so he’s taking care of them. So, Brian is not in the band, it’s a different time, also when they recorded it I was sick, I was still in the hospital, so it just feels like a different time, a different era for the band. Now that I’m well, Brian’s not in the band, it seems like we got kind of rejuvenated, this whole new feeling and excitement for the band so, we decided we’re going to re-record and probably write some new songs, different songs, and probably do that in August or September, hopefully, don’t quote me on that.
ANTIHERO: Do you have any idea of when it could be released?
Mike IX Williams: In 14 years [laughs]. I don’t know, it depends on how everything goes, we are not one of those bands that work very fast on an album, we are not one of those bands, either, that tours-records an album-tours-records an album. We do when we want, we work at our own pace, we don’t really care what the labels want us to do, we just do it as we want to.
ANTIHERO: The last album of yours was self-titled and, when it’s not the first album, when to release a self-titled album is always a big question for a band: why did you feel it was the right time for you to put out a self-titled album?
Mike IX Williams: That’s another thing with this band, that album was recorded with our old drummer, Joey, who passed away, he died in 2013 right after we had finished recording the album, but it wasn’t released yet, we were still working on things like the title…we had names, we had a bunch of different names we were gonna call the record, and things that everybody had kind of agreed on, but nobody was really happy with those titles. So, then Joey passed away and it seemed like that was another change in our attitude and in just the way we felt, just calling the album “Eyehategod” seemed the thing to do. Not trying to make anything clever or weird, we just wanted to…Joey had died, our best friend died, so we just called it “Eyehategod”. You know, just leave it to something simple, it just seemed to work for that record.
ANTIHERO: Your music is often defined as “Sludge”, but I think there’s more to it, different sides and influences; how would you define it?
Mike IX Williams: I don’t, I don’t define it [laughs]. It’s just Rock N’ Roll to me, it’s just another form of Rock N’ Roll. I mean, people call it Sludge or Doom, those are just other labels…there are elements of Southern Rock, some groove stuff in there, there’s bluesy stuff, there’s definitely, they use the word “Punk Rock” in there and Hardcore, and Metal, but they are all very subtle and they blend into something new. If that’s what journalists want to call it, if they want to call it Sludge, whatever they want to call it…I personally don’t like that term but, I’ll go with the flow, if that’s what they want to call it that’s fine, whatever.
ANTIHERO: Being Italian, I come from a quite religious country where a name like Eyehategod would have caused many troubles for the band, especially in the ’80s, but also today; did you ever have any problem with that?
Mike IX Williams: In the beginning yeah, in the early days there were shows we couldn’t play, clubs that said that the local clergy had called and complained or something, one time in Tennessee that happened…there was a show in New Orleans once when we played with this local band, an old legendary band now, called Graveyard Rodeo, and this local church protested, they walked around the club carrying crosses and signs saying, “Worship Jesus” and all that stuff. That’s probably the biggest case of that happening, but…there’s always kids saying that their parents’ threw their shirts in the fire, told them never to came home with that shirt again, so the kids never came home again. Back in the ‘80s, when we started, it was definitely more shocking, but with the way things are going now, who knows, maybe it will become shocking again with a lot of these religious people following the current American government, you know, feeling a little more brave to come out and admit their religious beliefs so, I guess we’ll see.
ANTIHERO: I know you wrote a book, “Cancer as a Social Activity”, are you writing something new?
Mike IX Williams: I’ve got like three books written right now, but they are all scattered, some of it it’s on my phone, some is handwritten, some is typed on a computer, I’ve got so much stuff written I don’t know where to start, really! I’ve got a little bit of it edited that I could probably do another book, which is what I’ve been working on, I’m trying to get this stuff edited and get some graphics and stuff and…get it put out, get it published. It’s just a matter of time, you know, we were busy doing the album, then I got sick, now we’re on tour; as soon as I get some free time I’ll get this stuff done. But, yes.
ANTIHERO: We were talking about it earlier, you’ve played a lot recently; first of all, how is the turnout at the shows?
Mike IX Williams: Sold-out, honestly, we played mostly sold-out shows! I can’t think of any show where it was terrible, we don’t even have a new album out, it’s been 5 years since the last record, crowds are amazing. I think Eyehategod is a band that people come out and…maybe it’s the last time that we ever play [laughs], you know, they come out and say, “One of these guys is gonna die”, or we could break up the next day, you know, I think it’s that kind of cult following that we have. Our fans are very dedicated and loyal. We were just in Europe 2-3 weeks ago?
ANTIHERO: Yeah, that’s exactly like you said, the last time you were here in Stockholm, some weeks ago, the show was canceled because of someone’s health problems and I kinda thought, “Okay, this is it, they’re gone”.
Mike IX Williams: Right, Jimmy had some health problem, we were on the plane from Helsinki, getting ready to fly here and play the show, and he had chest pains, so we decided that it would be way better not to play the show and have him looked at, since he’s so unhealthy and he smokes like a chimney [laughs]. That’s my brother there [Jimmy flips off, Mike laughs].
ANTIHERO: From what I could find on the internet it seems this is already the year you toured the most in your career, are you planning to keep touring a lot during 2018?
Mike IX Williams: Yeah, we have this tour, then when we get home we have few things, we have Psychofest…oh no, what am I saying, when we get home after this we go on tour with Black Label Society in America, that’s another month. We’ve already done this one for a month, with Black Label, bigger clubs, bigger halls, because Black Label’s huge and we’d definitely be outcast on there, but it works out, it works somehow, I don’t know how but it works. So, we’re doing that, then we’re going to take a little break, that’s when we’re going to get back in the studio and hopefully finish the record, do the vocals and get it done; then we go to South America in October, we got like 11 shows in South America, and then after that we don’t have anything planned for the rest of the year so, I’m not sure if we’re going to try to do some more shows or if we’re going to take a break or what. Pretty much for the U.S.A. we are kind of saturated right now, but we could probably do some headline gigs here and there and continue…so, we’re going to keep taking whatever people throw at us, if it’s good offers we’re going to keep doing it, you know?
ANTIHERO: Thank you for your time, Mike.
Mike IX Williams: Yeah, thank you man, I appreciate it.